Gardner Botsford tells the fascinating and humorous story of his W.W. II experiences, from his assignment to the infantry due to a paperwork error to a fearful trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, to landing under heavy fire on Omaha Beach and the Liberation of Paris. After the war, he began a distinguished literary career as a long-time editor at the New Yorker, and chronicles the magazine’s rise and influence on postwar American culture with wit and grace.
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Born in 1917, Gardner Botsford was a distinguished editor at The New Yorker from the late 1940s, following his military service in W.W. II, until his retirement in 1982.
Botsford, a former New Yorker editor, pulls off a difficult balancing act in this graceful memoir. He covers brutal WWII experiences in highly charged, reportorial detail, then switches effortlessly to his wealthy, No‰l Coward-flavored background. Beginning with his soldier days, he backtracks to his years at Yale and colorfully portrays his mother, Neysa McMein, a celebrated beauty and international heartbreaker who attracted such friends as Alexander Woolcott and George Abbott. Botsford's writing ability first surfaced with a humor column he wrote in college, and he began at the New Yorker as an underpaid contributor. The book, always compelling, becomes impossible to put down when he focuses on the legendary William Shawn. He describes the editor as "a hermetically sealed intellectual" and points out why the two formed a friendly but consistently uneasy alliance: Shawn "tiptoed through life as though through a minefield.... I was forever getting into fights, arguing with cab drivers.... I was wildly irrational." Despite Botsford's ambivalent feelings about his colleague, he tells the story of Tom Wolfe's scathing Shawn expos‚ in the New York Herald Tribune with unbiased clarity, making readers feel Shawn's despair at being publicly unmasked. The last section, in which Shawn fights against appointing a successor until Si Newhouse fires him, is a chilling demonstration of how desperately people cling to power. Beyond Botsford's precisely drawn, touching closeups of such authors as Maeve Brennan and A.J. Liebling, he makes readers understand an editor's life and responsibilities. His editorial rules of thumb provide enlightening material for readers and writers alike. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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